The Townsville Bulletin published a Letter to the Editor from Townsville Catholic Bishop Timothy Harris on 2.6.2021.
I responded with the following letter to editor, which has not been published by the Bulletin.
A Christian response to Catholic Bishop Harris “VAD Laws need rethink”, 2.6.2021
Bishop Harris states: VAD “laws will result in more deaths”. Fact: these patients are already dying – there will not be any more deaths, just less horrific suffering as that life ends.
Fact: While there will always be a place for good palliative care – no amount of money or advancements will ever provide the required level of relief of all suffering.
Harris quotes Paul Keating against VAD Choice! Fact: What on earth are Keating’s qualifications to allow him to pontificate on how other Australians should suffer and die?
Harris states: “society will never be the same again”. I imagine a similar remark was made at the end of the Catholic Inquisition, with the abolition of slavery and when women were allowed to have pain relief during childbirth! Hopefully we can say the same when there are no longer any paedophile priests?
Fact: A significant majority of Australians have stopped, have thought rationally, and decided that a change in our society is needed to allow the option to choose a Voluntary Assisted Death.
Bishop Harris is welcome to maintain his medieval outlook on dying but how dare he try to impose his views on all other Australians, including a majority of Christians.
Ian Wood National Spokesperson for Christians Supporting Choice for VAD Mittagong NSW
Here is the Bishop’s letter that I was responding to ……..
Voluntary Assisted Dying Proposed Legislation
It appears that proponents of voluntary assisted suicide have begun their victory laps. I have been very
vocal in my opposition to VAD laws being embodied into this State and elsewhere. I continue to hold the
strong view that no good whatsoever will come if these laws are passed.
Indeed, society will never be the same again. Here we are still in a COVID-19 global pandemic where
death is all around us and into this context, we have sections of the community cheering on laws that will
result in more deaths.
I thought a civilised society was against suicide and wished to do everything possible to eradicate it. But
no, it seems we wish to offer people the option of taking their precious lives.
We can do better than this race to the bottom. We can create an environment of accompaniment from the
beginning of a terminal illness to the end. Society must not abandon anyone, especially the most
Palliative care creates an environment conducive to caring and compassionate actions that can lead to
someone dying well. Some of these horror stories of people dying in terrible pain are years old. Palliative
care has advanced in its effectiveness and will do so even more if adequate funding from governments
can be achieved.
People are frightened into supporting voluntary assisted suicide because they are led to believe they have
no other alternative. Proponents of VAD should therefore hang their heads in shame and demand of their
governments a standard of Palliative care that mitigates against a rush to a regime that sanctions death.
Paul Keating is right. Going down this path is a step too far. No one needs to suffer unbearable suffering,
but a concerted effort to ease this suffering with world class palliative care system will at least challenge
the view that VAD is the answer.
Suicide is suicide and it is a tragic consequence of a society that has failed its people. Suicide of any kind
is not necessary because it leaves in its wake a kind of individual and community paralysis that seems to
be placed in the too hard basket. How have we got to this stage? What support structures can we place
around people? Can we do things better? Do people feel they are alone and have to carry the burden by
I say to members of parliament and those advocating for voluntary assisted suicide – “STOP and think
again.” Let us have a good long hard look at ourselves before we go to where we have not gone before.
Most Rev Timothy J Harris
Bishop of Townsville
1 June 2021